Memorable VBT Moments

Vermont Bike Trips does an amazing job hiring personable, charming and helpful guides, organizing interesting routes, and making sure that there are options for all skill levels.

I’ve been asked how far someone rides on a typical day, and the short answer is as far as you want. For me, the total mileage was 120 miles over 6 days or an average of  20 miles per day.  But some days were longer, others were shorter.  For example, the first day is always short, because you are getting used to the bike and warming up.  That first day,we all rode less than 10 miles. My longest ride was 29 miles, through Sumava, the Czech Republic’s largest national park.

It was uphill a fair part of the morning, because we were crossing the continental divide.

Beth and Denise put the pedal to the metal and powered up the hill.
Beth and Denise put the pedal to the metal and powered up the hill.
Following Karen through the forest
Following Karen through the forest

Fortunately what goes UP must come down, so our ride after lunch was quite delightful. I felt like I was sitting on a motor scooter, zipping through the woods. No pedaling required for a couple of miles–I just held on and coasted.
But then we had a few anxious moments when the path we were following was roped off. Did we make a wrong turn? Were we going to have to retrace our wheels (they definitely weren’t steps), except going UPHILL for those “motor scooter” miles?
As we pondered our dilemma, it soon became clear.  We heard the thunder of hooves, and realized that the ropes functioned as a type of traffic light.  By the time I got my camera out, I was only able to capture this last guy.

The bike path is also the path for an earlier mode of transportation.
The bike path is also the path for an earlier mode of transportation.
If I had been quicker retrieving my camera, you would have seen these guys in action.  They were quite beautiful, galloping from one field to the other.
If I had been quicker retrieving my camera, you would have seen these guys in action. They were quite beautiful, galloping from one field to the other.

We enjoyed two days in Passau, Germany, a gorgeous little town on the Danube. During. Walk through town, I noticed the playground had a little zip line. You’d walk up a slight incline, hop onto a rope with a little seat type contraption, get a little momentum going and zip across to the others side, where you would smash into a big tire that would then fling you back at least halfway. Maybe the kids could get further…MY best distance was halfway. Sorry, no photos. I waited till it was dark, when the kids had all gone home.
I DO have photos of our ride along the River Inn, to the little town of Scharding. This was the morning that stopped raining just as we headed out. From the look of my legs, you can probably surmise that the trail was just a tiny bit muddy.

The bridge between Germany and Austria. I have a foot in each country.
The bridge between Germany and Austria. I have a foot in each country.

This statue symbolizes the warm, loving feelings Germany and Austria have for each other.

The kissing statue
The kissing statue.  As you can see, I am very much in favor of  loving kindness between nations.

It was a BEAUTIFUL ride, not too hot, not too cold, with the mist rising from the river making it very scenic.

I hope you really like this photo.  While taking it, I managed to knock my bike off the path, into the mud.  Good thing I had dismounted!
I hope you really like this photo. While taking it, I managed to knock my bike off the path, into the mud. Good thing I had dismounted!

One last photo of Passau before I call it quits for the night. I don’t want to run out of my Internet allotment!

Passau's ancient tower at sunset
Passau’s ancient tower at sunset

Sometimes your luck just runs out…

Although the weather reports had been predicting rain, rain and more rain, for the first five biking days we had been really fortunate.  The rain DID come, but it was either at night, or in the early morning, ending before we started riding, until our last biking day.  But we were READY.  We all donned our foul weather gear, and Diane improvised–using the hotel shower cap to cover her helmet.

Poncho

My poncho was flapping wildly in the wind. As they whipped past, my co-bikers shouted that I looked like: the Red Baron, ET, the flying nun, Batman, –but the most popular was the witch from the Wizard of Oz. That got a couple of votes.  I admired their creativity, but wondered why Karen didn’t get similar comments on HER poncho. Her theory? She didn’t look quite so ridiculous.  Unfortunately, with the rain coming down, we weren’t able to get action shots, so you could see for yourself, and offer YOUR opinion.

Our wonderful guides, Hana and Andy, gave us several options that weren’t part of the day’s original plan.  Several of us chose the newest option, a SHORT ride –9 miles.  Our mother/ daughter team (Beth and Susan) are real troopers (or masochists), riding the full 16 miles to Melk.

One of the bonuses of our VBT  trips is the people we meet.  We all loved the Midwestern ladies.  Beth was especially grateful for Jessie, who made the return trip from Melk with Susan.  Marcia, Jessie’s sister, was equally grateful for Susan.  Otherwise, Beth and Marcia would have felt compelled to ride back, in the RAIN, with their crazed biker relative.

Our new Midwestern friends: Jessie, Marcia, Karla, and Mary
Our new Midwestern friends: Jessie, Marcia, Karla, and Mary

We’ve declared the Midwestern ladies honorary “Biker Chicks” and hope that they will join us for our ride in 2016.  Here’s Jessie, atop St. Michael’s church tower.

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Back in the day, churches were multipurpose, serving as fortresses AND places of worship. Why not use good time management and fit in a few prayers while you are shooting your arrows?

The tower has been modernized, with lovely art work, so you have something to gaze upon as you climb to the top.

Inside St. michael's church tower
Inside St. michael’s church tower

Also on the ride from our hotel in Weissenkirchen to Melk was a 25,000 year old statue of Venus. But she was high on the hill, it was raining, so I figured I’d just google her. When I did, I learned the one atop the hill is a replica and the real one is here in Vienna!  Wise decision on my part, wouldn’t you say?

Melk was yet another over the top example of the wealth of the Catholic Church.  Our guide explained that God had to be greater than the emperor, so the churches, and his chosen ones had to have the proper wardrobe.  There were capes that Elvis could have worn, Michael Jackson gloves, and Liberace shoes.

The gloves
The gloves

Here are a few more shots of Melk which will likely use up my Internet allotment for the day.

Spiral staircase
Spiral staircase

About that Castle…

imageCesky Krumlov is a lovely medieval town perched on the top of a high hill, filled with restaurants, shops, and a castle with a story, which I now know.

The castle was built around 1250 by the Rosenbergs, who lived there for about 600 years till the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II took a fancy to it.  I’m sure there were lots of battles and other really important historical events connected with the castle, but the story that I liked the most was about the Rosenberg son who married for love, against the wishes of his father.  That marriage was annulled, so that son could make a more appropriate match, one that came with a large dowry.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of a delay in the payment of the dowry, so son (whose name escapes me, but I’ll bet you don’t care either) sent his blushing bride home.  It took about 10 years, numerous bake sales and car washes for the family to come up with the requisite sum.  By the time the two love birds got together, Mrs. Rosenburg was getting on in years.  She consulted a priest or some other magical power fellow, so when she gave birth at age 42, it was declared a miracle, resulting in canonization of the miracle worker.  (No, not the husband, the magical fellow).  Personally, I think if anyone should have been canonized, it should have been Mrs. Rosenburg, for putting up with that nonsense.  I had a good look at The Lord of the manor, and let me tell you, he was no prize. If I had been sent home, I would have stayed there and used the dowry money to travel. But maybe that’s just me.

The view from the castle is spectacular, well worth the climb up the hill.

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos IN the castle, so I’ll have to describe the coat of arms of one of the later families, who moved in when the Hapsburgs tired of it. Picture a severed head, sporting a fu Manchu mustache dangling at an angle, with a black bird pecking at his eyes. That’s because the Schwartzenbergs defeated the Turks and the grateful emperor rewarded them with that stunning visual.

After much wandering, discussions, and menu viewing, the biker chicks decided to dine at our hotel. We had drinks and appetizers on the terrace, then moved inside for dinner once it got cold.

Karen, Beth and Susan
Karen, Beth and Susan

 

Diane and Karen

Diane and Karen

On our last day in Cesky Krumlov, we took a train part way through the forest, then biked across what was once the iron curtain, so of course we took advantage of the photo op.
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